Real estate services company DTZ has outsourced its entire IT function, eliminating five jobs in the process.
Ross Pickett, the chief executive of the New Zealand operation, says the move was driven by the need to increase flexibility in IT and to use more advanced tools, though difficulties in keeping IT staff was also a factor.
In November DTZ completed the year-long outsourcing process, shifting its IT operations to services company Revera.
One of the company’s five IT staff has gone to the outsourcer and the remaining four found work elsewhere, Pickett says.
A company that plans to outsource its IT should “spend a lot of time defining [its] requirements and setting priorities in terms of future developments in IT services,” says Pickett.
So far, the arrangement is progressing smoothly, “though it’s still early days”, he says. DTZ has concentrated on transferring its current workload and making sure that is bedded down before implementing any of the planned changes.
The company wants to make its workforce more mobile, allowing them to work from home or on the road, using tools such as laptops, tablet computers or PDAs like the BlackBerry. Revera has experience in working with such mobile tools and workforces and integrating them with the company network.
Though it will reduce office overheads, becoming more mobile is a change most staff want to make, Pickett says. “We’re not pushing them to do this,” he emphasises, though “at the end of the day, there could be a bit of peer pressure on those that don’t make the move.”
About 90% of staff work from the Auckland office at present and by the end of this year DTZ expects to have reduced that proportion to about 40%.
This is DTZ’s third attempt at IT outsourcing. The first was two years ago. “I don’t think we properly prepared for it or adequately explained what we wanted,” Pickett says. There were “variances” in the practices and expectations of different staff, and the chosen provider had not been prepared for these.
Outsourcing is not a solution for a system which is not running smoothly in-house, he says. “You can’t outsource your problems.”
On the second occasion, last year, the final move was never made; the parties reached the “due diligence” stage when it became evident that it was not going to work.
The reasons were similar to those that scuppered the first attempt, he says.
By the third run, DTZ was convinced that Revera was the right partner and the contract was offered to them without a competitive tender.
Outsourcing is “an awful exercise”, says Pickett, and is best done gradually and carefully.
The chief metric of success for DTZ will be a more efficient and less costly operation as well as a more satisfied workforce, he says.